Battle of Wœrth

Article

August 13, 2022

The Battle of Wœrth is also known as the Battle of Reichshoffen or as the Battle of Fröschweiler was fought on 6 August 1870 in the small town of Wœrth (Wörth), on the river Sauer 10 km north of Haguenau and stood between German and French forces during the Franco-Prussian War .

Background

After war broke out on 19 July, the French forces moved into Saarbrücken on 2 August. Regardless of this, the Prussian Crown Prince Frederick Wilhelm moved towards Wissembourg where the French force in the town was preparing an attack against Germany. After the German forces had defeated the French garrison in the Battle of Wissembourg. This allowed the German forces to advance into France. The other French soldiers from Wissembourg withdrew to the west. The following day the advance continued to Wœrth, where Marshal Patrice Mac-Mahon had taken up a position with his corps and a division of the 7th Corps.

The battle

Initial Gunfights

The German forces were not fully deployed and fully deployed when the Bavarian forces on the outskirts of the city in the gray light on 6 August were shelled by French artillery. Unaware of the order to be restrained in initiating the fighting, they moved closer to the city and occupied a hilltop overlooking the area. The French then intensified the shelling and the Prussian 5th Corps at Dieffenbach-lès-Wœrth came to the Bavarian forces' aid. At the same time, the Prussian 6th Corps also became involved in an exchange of fire when French and Prussian soldiers met each other at the river in connection with fetching water.

The German attack

When the German main force heard the gunfire, the 6th Corps' attack units went into their positions, but had to change these somewhat in relation to the original plans as the fighting came too early. As the positions were not the best to remain in for the Germans, they launched the attack. They were met with heavy artillery fire and there was confusion among the German forces until a new battalion belonging to the Prussian 6th Corps arrived and attacked the French on one flank, while the German artillery shelled the other. Under the attack from two sides, the French had to retreat. The situation had until now been critical for the Prussian 5th Corps in the centre, and when the French forces retreated, the Prussians were able to cross the river. Around 1:00 p.m., the German commander-in-chief, Crown Prince Fredrik Wilhelm, arrived on the battlefield, and he sent forces from Württemberg to attack the French right flank.

French counterattack

The French cavalry was deployed to cover the French retreat on their right. This was partially successful, but also cost heavy losses. But the French infantry were able to launch a counterattack. However, this turned into a disaster as 700 French cuirassiers were shot down within a few minutes at close range. The French withdrawal therefore had to be resumed. Around 15:00, the German forces had control over the area where the French right flank had stood. But there was some confusion among them after fighting for a long time in dense forest. They were met with another powerful French counter-attack and the situation became critical for the German forces in this area, until reinforcements arrived from the north-west. At the same time, the Prussian 6th Corps attacked in the center and two Bavarian corps on the French left, where the French forces were still in their original positions.

French withdrawal

Mac-Mahon deployed his reserve artillery and a new cavalry division. In this way he put the German forces under pressure, before he could launch a counterattack with his last intact forces. However, this came too late and the German forces pushed the French back both in the center and on the flanks. Under cover of the evening darkness, the remaining French forces fled, as the German cavalry was too weak to take up the pursuit.